Blue Origin to push New Shepard safety regime with ninth test

Ismael LynchJul 19, 2018

The launch will also see the New Shepard rocket perform a high-altitude escape motor test to push the ship to its limit.

Blue Origin, the aerospace company backed by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, completed a test Wednesday of a new motor during a blastoff from its launchpad in west Texas.

The high-altitude emergency abort test is created to figure out what may happen when there's a problem with the launch rocket, according to Engadget.

A sensor-equipped test dummy nicknamed Mannequin Skywalker sat in one of the capsule's seats.

By the seventh test, the campaign featured a new next-generation booster - powered by its BE-3 engine - and the first flight of Crew Capsule 2.0, a spacecraft that featured real windows, measuring 2.4 x 3.6 feet.

Unlike SpaceX, which thus far has largely focused on sending cargo into space as opposed to humans, Blue Origin is leading the charge on space tourism and crewed missions. It should start at 8 a.m. PT.

The team will then attempt to safely land the booster, as it did during a similar test back in 2016.

While testing with New Shepard continues, work on Blue Origin's next vehicle, the New Glenn is pressing on, albeit mainly away from the attention of the media.

Although Blue Origin is yet to provide details, it is understood the company has already purchased the first landing ship for returning New Glenn boosters.

It's part of a safety system meant to save lives once space tourists and others climb aboard for suborbital hops.

"Anything could have happened today, and this is the best possible outcome", launch commentator Ariane Cornell said.

The solid-fuel "pusher" abort motor, built by Aerojet Rocketdyne with subsystems provided by Blue Origin, is created to quickly ignite on command from flight controllers or an on-board computer if safety software detects an impending booster malfunction, rapidly propelling the capsule and its crew away from the rocket with a jarring burst of acceleration. "Great engineering and the lucky boots worked again".

Blue Origin has provided only vague schedules about when human flights would begin, with company officials saying recently they anticipated starting to fly humans on test flights by the end of this year. The flight of experiment was arranged Olympiaspace, a European "commercial space agency" that took care of logistical and regulatory matters for the payload.

"But we've got our eye on the prize", she added.

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